AstraZeneca scores win as diabetes drug shown to slow kidney disease

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the NYSE in New York

(Reuters) - AstraZeneca's diabetes treatment Farxiga has proven to be "overwhelmingly" effective at slowing chronic kidney disease ahead of the scheduled end of a drug trial, the British drugmaker said, potentially opening a new area of treatment outside diabetes.

An interim study analysis showed that patients on Farxiga, known as Forxiga outside North America, had better renal function and were less likely to die from heart of kidney disease than a control group on placebo, the company said on in a statement on Monday.

An independent monitoring committee stopped the trial early as it was no longer justifiable to keep patients on placebo.

Farxiga, among AstraZeneca's top five drugs by sales, was first developed as a diabetes drug as it causes the kidneys to expel blood sugar from the body through urine but it has shown promise as a heart failure treatment, even among non-diabetic patients.

"Farxiga is moving from diabetes into the larger and more attractive (cardiovascular)/metabolism field where it may distinguish itself more easily from the rest of the antidiabetics," said Eric Le Berrigaud, an analyst at brokerage Bryan Garnier.

Analysts on average expect the drug to generate $3 billion in sales in 2024, up from $1.5 billion last year.

The company said details of how well the drug did against chronic kidney disease would be presented at an as yet undisclosed medical conference. It will also start talking to regulators about an early request for market approval for the new use, Astra added.

Farxiga is part of the SGLT2-inhibitor class of antidiabetics which includes Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim's Jardiance as well as Johnson & Johnson's Invokana.

U.S. regulators this month granted fast track designation to Jardiance for the treatment of chronic kidney disease.




(Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Louise Heavens)